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President Ramaphosa salutes Amazon for jobs creation in SA

Samuel Mungadze
By Samuel Mungadze, Africa editor
Johannesburg, 22 Jun 2020
President Cyril Ramaphosa.
President Cyril Ramaphosa.

President Cyril Ramaphosa today saluted US multinational technology company Amazon for its drive to recruit up to 3 000 South Africans by the end of this year.

In his weekly newsletter, Ramaphosa says he remains optimistic that as the country gradually returns to normalcy, the growing investment levels that were seen before COVID-19 hit will slowly but surely return.

Last week, Amazon began recruiting in SA to fill new virtual job vacancies in customer service.

The global conglomerate says the roles will range from customer service associates, to technical experts who will work virtually while supporting Amazon customers in North America and Europe.

With the new recruits, Amazon will have a total permanent workforce of 7 000 in SA by the end of the year.

The president says the development comes as many businesses battle for survival, with many retrenchments due to the impact of COVID-19.

In the newsletter, Ramaphosa notes the impact COVID-19 has had on the economy, as the country has been in various stages of lockdown in the last 100 days since the outbreak of the virus.

“Our economy is in the throes of the anticipated fallout from this global crisis. The predictions of businesses shutting down and jobs being lost are materialising.

“Last week, a number of companies announced plans to retrench staff. From aviation to construction, from entertainment and leisure to hospitality, companies have indicated their intention to retrench staff because of heavy losses incurred over the past three months.”

In other cases, Ramaphosa says, businesses are closing permanently. “Small businesses whose turnover has been wiped out will be even harder hit.”

Praising Amazon for swimming against the tide and creating employment, he writes: “The announcement last week by Amazon that it is on a drive to hire up to 3 000 South Africans for a variety of positions is a welcome signal, as is the announcement that local energy storage company Metair has secured a number of contracts from the Ford motor company, and that the Pan-African cloud and data solutions entity Africa Data Centres has acquired a hi-tech data centre in Johannesburg.”

The president says the job creation efforts, which his administration began in early 2020, such as the Presidential Youth Employment Intervention, and the existing ones such as the Expanded Public Works Programme and Community Works Programme, will be scaled up.

“The job-creation initiatives and programmes the private sector began before coronavirus must resume, and new ones should be designed and implemented.”

In his assessment of the impact of COVID-19 on the economy, Ramaphosa says SA is not alone.

“In Italy, the UK, the US, Germany, India, China and nearly every country that had imposed some form of lockdown, jobs have been lost or hours of workers reduced. It is being spoken of as a ‘job loss tsunami’.”

In addition, Ramaphosa notes that in April, the International Labour Organisation forecast there would be around 305 million job losses worldwide.

“The situation of workers in the informal economy is even worse, with an estimated 1.6 billion workers in danger of losing their livelihoods.”